Op-Ed: Education in Haiti

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“Let’s raise a new generation of Haitians that is scientifically and technologically literate.”

By Eric Rolex Joseph
Op-Ed Contributor

Education is the best way for a country to reduce poverty, become competitive on the international stage and strengthen democracy and good governance.

With 6 out of 10 Haitians under 25 years old and with the country’s close proximity to the US, Haiti has the potential to become a major player in the Caribbean. Well-crafted education policy is the key to unlocking Haiti’s potential and moving it forward.

The world is one global village. We live among determined, well-educated, and strongly motivated competitors.

Haiti needs to be able to compete with them for international standing and markets, not only with products but also with the ideas of our laboratories and neighborhood workshops.

In order to improve the quality of the Haitian education system, it’s important that the nation take a very innovative approach in pairing schools, parents, government, unions, business and economic experts so they can help setting the goals for economic prosperity.

Our schools should be able to lay the ground for economic competitiveness and innovation in fields that are relevant to the future and to the development of the Haitian economy such as: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is time for our students to be able to have the basic education they need at home, without leaving the country so they can compete in the next decades.

The problems we have identified in Haitian education like poor education quality (primary, secondary, higher Ed) and a lack of data for decision-making can be both understood and corrected if the people of our country, together with those who have public responsibility in the matter and the future of the nation care enough and are courageous enough to do what is required.

Acknowledging the challenges and being able to act decisively will require leadership and long-term vision from Haiti’s Department of Education.

We must dedicate ourselves to the reform of our educational system for the benefit of all –old and young alike — affluent and poor, rural and urban population.

Learning is the indispensable investment required for success in the “information age.”

The essential raw materials needed to reform our educational system are the participation of everyone and a better understanding of the causal relationship between education and poverty and the ultimately magical power of education importance in transforming a nation future.

Strong education policies that can help us improving the quality of life, reducing poverty and creating a competitive nation without requiring too much financial capital should follow seven specific principles:

  • Recognize and promote the idea that school performance can raise one’s state in life and shape one’s own future;
  • Help private and public schools to foster key national educational goals such as better STEM promotion (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) and other relevant field of studies.
  • Encourage voluntary efforts of individuals, businesses, and parent and civic groups to cooperate in strengthening educational programs.
  • Elaborate network and communication channel that will help having a better understanding of learning and teaching and the implications of this knowledge for school practice, and the numerous examples of local success as a result of superior effort and effective dissemination;
  • Encourage policymakers, scientists, colleges and local educators, and scholars to work together in formulating solutions with the intended goals to improve the nation competitiveness.
  • Create a tracking system for students who receive scholarships in the name of the Republic, and those who go to schools with state funding so they can pay back.

Haiti does not have a huge amount of natural resources; it cannot count indefinitely on tourism or textiles.

The country needs to educate its population to move to upper level of production in the next two decades and reduce poverty.

The only way to get out of poverty and compete is to redefine the goals of the education system.

We need to train our children — our young leaders — in areas of the future. The new approach will help provide them with the skills that can attract foreign investment, build a more skillful workforce.

Eric Joseph is a Fulbright scholar.

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.